2016-07-01 / Letters

A refresher course on dam removal

To the editor:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide a spring update on our view of Goff Mill Brook in Arundel. As impassioned discussion on the removal of the dams on the Mousam River in Kennebunk continues, we realize that many people are unaware of the huge impact dam removal will make on their town and on the lives of thousands of people and the resident wildlife.

When the small dam on Goff Mill Brook was removed in September, the water rushed out into the Kennebunk River, and the fresh water from the brook continues to be lost to the salty river. During a heavy rain, as we had recently, the water continues to rush out as the brook now acts as a storm drain. The mud and silt run to the river and will, over time, undoubtedly add to the need for dredging down-river. The mud banks of the brook are sloped and from our vantage point and with all of the Spring growth filled in, there are a good 7-plus feet of exposed mud. The backwaters with the lily pads and other living things are gone. The frog habitat has been lost, and there has been no sign of the turtles that have lived here for many, many decades. There are no signs of the laying and burying of their eggs along our sandy drives. The beaver habitat was destroyed and the beavers are gone. We do not know if any survived ... there is quite a lot of information regarding the water conservation value of beavers with their creation, maintenance, and preservation of waterways (Public Broadcasting has a program on this and there are numerous articles in conservation publications that can be found also). Their homes also provided homes to the muskrat, frogs, and other critters in winter. They are family oriented and hospitable to their neighbors. It is important to not undervalue beavers. The herons and other water birds have not returned except to check out the scarcity of food and habitat and to quickly depart. This spring when we normally see pairs of ducks and then their families living in and alongside the brook, we have seen only two or three ducks on occasion. The loss of habitat is significant for this wildlife and for the entire area. Yes, we miss seeing it all … the wonders of these creatures … but this seems to us to be a great loss to the whole area, not just to us.

What made these creatures so dispensable to the groups that decided the dam removal was acceptable? What made the brook so disposable? What makes seeing the bottom of the brook, the rocks and mud, and the loss of fresh, clean water more desirable? Why is losing recreational pleasures more desirable? The otters checked it out and left. Was there not enough to eat where there were plenty of fish before? The kingfisher flies past with its call to stir the fish, but there is evidently either not enough water to dive into or nothing to pluck from the brook as the kingfisher, too, leaves … this bird that used to perch in a branch out over the water and plunge in to the brook to grab sustenance and flew and dove multiple times each day, now flies over and is gone … how is the release of the waterway an improvement? Why is there an agenda to remove dams on these rivers, brooks and streams? What makes pre-colonial days the model for present day? We wonder why the involved groups seem so intent on valuing fish over the value of the people and the wildlife and vegetation already there. What is in it for them? Some say, follow the money.

How does Goff Mill Brook apply to the Mousam River? If the dams are destroyed, it will be about loss: Loss of habitat, loss of wildlife and water fowl, loss of fresh water, loss of recreation, loss of beauty, loss of potential for hydroelectric power, loss of property values (since one of us is a real estate agent, one appraiser suggested to us that the property values along the Mousam River would drop by an estimated 25 percent), loss of a major part of the town’s identity and attraction. We suggest that if the dams are destroyed, the entire town’s value will be affected, not just the properties along the river.

We have been told over and over by those that were invested in the destruction of the dam on Goff Mill Brook that this is “just change” and that people are “afraid of change.” This has not been about a fear of change. This has been about loss that makes no sense and about which we had no say/no power.

The people of Kennebunk, the users of Kennebunk Light and Power, will suffer losses at nearly every level if the dams come down. We encourage you to speak up for saving the dams.

John and Judy Andrews

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